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Did SEO Die in 2016?

July 22, 2016

2016 might seem like curtain call for SEO, but it’s not that simple. Imagine it more like an elementary school graduation. Sure, your primary education days might be over, but that doesn’t mean you’re done with school.

SEO is intrinsically linked to search engines, and search engines have grown up much like anyone else does. So in that sense SEO has also grown up, and similar to how you would approach a teenager in a different way than you approach a young child, you can’t expect  SEO to work the same way today as it did in the past.

Remember when you were a toddler and you had a toy which asked you to put the square shape through the square slot, the triangle through the triangle slot, and the star through the star slot? Think of that as Google in the early days. If a user asked for a square, Google gave them a square. If you as the content provider gave Google a square, it knew which slot to put it through. It didn’t matter much what color the square was, whether it was made of wood or plastic, or who had given it to them.

But we grew out of that toy, and Google moved on in a similar way.

Think of modern SEO more like advanced reading comprehension exercises in high school. You might remember reading comprehension questions such as:

“What was the main topic of this passage?”

“Who do you think this passage was written for?”

“Why do you think the author wrote this passage?”

“Do you think this passage adds anything new to the discussion?”

“How does the author establish credibility?”

Do you think Google can answer these types of questions about your content, or will it dismiss your content as poorly written or irrelevant? Here are a few basic pointers to make sure you’re on the right track with the grown up version of SEO:

Keep Doing Your Research

Research has always been a fundamental part of successful search engine optimization strategy. More than ever, you need to know who your users are and what they are looking for, especially as competition increases.

Keep Creating Content

Low quality and spammy link-building doesn’t work any more, but that doesn’t mean you should stop putting out content. Consistent, good quality content shows search engines that you’re current and that you know what you’re talking about.

Diversify Your Content Strategy

Different people consume content in different ways, and most of us get our content through various different media. Try to reach people through as many online channels as you have the time and effort to invest in. This may include social media, blogs, video, press releases, etc. Search engines will reward you for catering to your users in diverse ways, as long as you are providing value.

Get More Specific

Think about how you search. Most of the time, you’re looking for something specific such as “how to create a blur effect in photoshop” or “best thai food in Los Angeles.” Create content that caters to these specific types of searches rather than staying in the realm of general information. It might feel safer to appeal to as many people as possible, but you’ll get better results faster for individual keyword phrases by going niche.

Stop Trying To Cheat

We get emails all the time from our clients and partners asking if we think it is a good idea to try this or that SEO trick. The bottom line is, if what you’re thinking about doing is designed to cheat the search engines into ranking you, don’t do it. Maybe these type of tricks worked before, but they won’t any more.

Going back to our analogy about Google “growing up,” as we grow up we become harder to trick. We are inherently more suspicious and more likely to notice the signs that something is not right. Google is no different. Now that they’ve graduated, they know how to spot your tricks. Cheating with the search engines will get you ignored at best, and penalized at worst.

Hire a Reputable Professional

It’s still a good idea to hire a professional, either for consulting or SEO fulfillment. However, stay away from companies that want to put you into a low-cost monthly recurring package without knowing exactly what they plan to do, seeing examples of their work and their results, and talking to their clients. Run away from guarantees – it just isn’t possible to guarantee marketing results, especially with search engines whose algorithms are changing constantly.

At iOVA Communications we have in-house content writing, graphic design, and analytics experts who can create and execute a consistent yet diverse content strategy for your brand. Let our consultants guide you through the SEO process and start building (or rebuilding) your search engine foundation. Contact us for your free consultation.

And remember, SEO is not dead. It’s just grown up.

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